Gaza Again

Israel is at it again. Given political orthodoxy in the United States, I should probably say Israel and the Palestinians are at it again, or, more precisely, Israel and Hamas are at it again, yet the disproportion between the two sides is such that there is no equivalence. One side is offering ineffectual resistance with rockets that are striking chiefly for their inaccuracy; the other is using the most sophisticated weapons of war to terrorize a population under occupation.

As I write, Israel is bombing Gaza. Operation Protective Edge is an escalation in the rampage of violence that has been going on ever since three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped on June 12. According to the daily newspaper The Forward and other sources, the government knew almost immediately that the teenagers were killed but did not disclose that even to the teenagers’ parents. Instead, without offering evidence, it blamed Hamas for the kidnappings, detained 282 Hamas members, ransacked almost 2,000 homes, killed at least five Palestinians, including two children, and arrested hundreds of Palestinians, some of them prisoners Israel had recently freed in a prisoner-exchange with Hamas. This though Hamas denied involvement and Israel knew early on that the kidnappings were not ordered by Hamas leadership but committed by a rogue cell in Hebron, possibly in retaliation for the murder of two Palestinian youths in Beitunia by an Israeli soldier.

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The murders of the three Israeli teenagers were a terrible crime for which the culprits should be brought to justice. But the violence that has been inflicted on innocent Palestinians who had nothing to do with it is monstrously out of proportion. Since the three teenagers were found, a Palestinian teenager has been burned to death by Jewish youths and Israel has launched its attack on Gaza, which as of this writing has killed over 200 Palestinians, 30 of them children, and injured 1,280. What kind of justice is that? Not for the first time, Israel seems a state out of control, led by leaders out of their minds.

Or are they? Some Israeli officials talk about “mowing the grass,” by which they refer to periodic campaigns in Gaza to destroy militant infrastructure. Jeff Halper, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, writes that the attack on Gaza was planned long before the kidnappings, which provided the pretext that the Israeli government wanted for its attack. Others describe Operation Protective Edge as Israel’s effort to foil the new unity government between Fatah and Hamas, which, with the collapse of the U.S. peace initiative, had greater latitude from the Americans to seek international recourse.

Whichever scenario you opt for, it’s a picture of Israel on the warpath. It is not a fair fight. Israel’s defenders will say that it is just protecting its citizens from Hamas rocket fire, which began July 8 after Israel launched its Operation Brother’s Keeper against Hamas. But when the number of dead is 222 on one side and zero on the other, as it was the day before the Israeli ground invasion began on July 17, it’s a massacre. Richard Falk, a Princeton University emeritus professor of international law and until recently the much-maligned U.N. special rapporteur for human rights in Palestine, has previously argued that when one country wages war on another country or population helpless to defend itself, it replicates the conditions of torture and should be considered such under international law.

Indeed, the abiding difficulty in reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is not that the Palestinians are too strong; it’s that they are too weak to induce Israel to make peace. Instead, Israel has been using the peace process as a fig leaf while it further colonizes Palestinian land.

And, really, why should Israel negotiate when it has the United States sending it billions of dollars every year to buy weapons and build settlements and blocking efforts in the United Nations to hold Israel accountable for its actions?

The pro-Israel lobby has Congress just where it wants it. Note that a bipartisan resolution has been introduced in the Senate that affirms Israel’s right to defend itself and calls for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity government with Hamas. I suspect Congress will approve the resolution 100 percent. It cannot act on behalf of Americans here at home, but it can always support Israel.

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Francesca G
3 years 4 months ago
I am deeply saddened by Israel's actions. I don't want to give Israel another one of my tax dollars to behave so callously. As it turns out, it was likely a lone cell, rather than Hamas itself, that kidnapped the three young men. I follow Miko Peled (an Israeli peace activist) on facebook, and I agree with most of his analyses on the subject. To get an idea of the horror that is going on in Palestine, one can follow the tweets of Mohammed Suliman, an LSE student currently in Gaza, at https://twitter.com/imPalestine. His tweets are utterly heartbreaking, especially as one can trace his transition in recent days from a carefree person with a sense of humor to a person completely broken down with grief and despair. I have to wonder how the current generation of children in Gaza, who have seen friends and family mutilated and burned and their homes destroyed, will grow up without psychological trauma and instability. Israel is only feeding the flames.
Francesca G
3 years 4 months ago
I am deeply saddened by Israel's actions. I don't want to give Israel another one of my tax dollars to behave so callously. As it turns out, it was likely a lone cell, rather than Hamas itself, that kidnapped the three young men. I follow Miko Peled (an Israeli peace activist) on facebook, and I agree with most of his analyses on the subject. To get an idea of the horror that is going on in Palestine, one can follow the tweets of Mohammed Suliman, an LSE student currently in Gaza, at https://twitter.com/imPalestine. His tweets are utterly heartbreaking, especially as one can trace his transition in recent days from a carefree person with a sense of humor to a person completely broken down with grief and despair. I have to wonder how the current generation of children in Gaza, who have seen friends and family mutilated and burned and their homes destroyed, will grow up without psychological trauma and instability. Israel is only feeding the flames.
Chris Miller
3 years 2 months ago
Francesca: You write a strong comment. At present, we have a huge dichotomy between Israel and Gaza. As an intelligence officer during many of the issues over the last 15 years of my career, ending in 1995, it was very clear that Israel's policies including interpreting everything to their absolutely best advantage. And it may simply be coincidental, but several times, with something on the horizon that may move the process along, something "happens" that Israel takes as provocation, and takes a new position on the topic that stymies the situation. What I don't think is appreciated sufficiently is the daily humiliations that too many Palestinians in the region face, day after day. Checkpoints that may-or may not-allow you to get a sick child to the hospital, which is on the far side of the checkpoint. Of farmers whose land is now on the far side of some arbitrarily drawn line that he is no longer able to cross. Of coping with settlers riding roughshod (literally) over Palestinians, using settler only roads, and brandishing weapons. Of fishing limits that mean the best catch is literally beyond the distance that Palestians may travel away from port. Daily humiliations that are a fact of life for many people create a situation where Palestinians trust neither the current actions of Israel, or the future, assumed to mean that Israel will subject to Palestinians to another set of humiliations. The Palestinians are living a reality which is very much like our Jim Crow era in the south, and may arguably worse. And the US is the financial backer that lets Israel get away with this. We need a policy in regard to Israel that basically says: If you are threatened with military force, we will act to ensure your continued existence as a state, but we will no longer act to prevent votes in the UN, just because they are humiliating, or some other statement of condemnation. We will no longer be the financial backers of these humiliations. The Palestinians were truly the losers in this situation. Most of them were simple farmers who were removed from their land--land that may have been in their family for a couple of hundred years. They were forced to pay the price for a world's conscience for their failure to speak out earlier when it would have mattered. Of course they and their children and their childrens' children are not inclined to be charitable to Israel. And yes, Israel has been the recipients of Palestinians' anger since 1948...but how do both sides create a society in which both sides can actually live? If the Palestinians are truly to see a new Israel, Israel needs to do things they don't want to do. One of them is to refuse to expand the settlements--which reward settlers for having large families, and instead have settlement building go up not out, and another is to do more than issue a tap on the wrist for settler "accidents" which cause a Palestinian's death. They must insure that the IDF and other military type groups which interact daily with Palestinians treat them with civility and honestly. The Palestinians have to have the knowledge that they are part of the larger society. These changes will not have an effect immediately, but over time, they will dial down the humiliation and anger which drives Palestinian lives. When a young child--especially a boy--sees his parents putting up with these injustices day after day, he doesn't forget, and even before the parents may notice, he is already radicalized. Parents often don't have control over their sons...the Israeli practice of blowing up their families' homes does not tell the younger man to back off...it just makes them angrier, and radicalizes his younger brothers. hamas might be culpable in the rocket attacks on Israel, but many of these rockets are of limited effectiveness and highly inaccurate. It is more like throwing stones than with the weapons used by the IDF. What I experienced dealing with Israeli military officers in the DC area in the 1990s, doesn't leave me with much hope. Pr Chris
Robert Lewis
3 years 4 months ago
The real culprit here is the United States of America. The simple fact is that the Americans could ORDER Netanyahu to stop the carnage, to agree IMMEDIATELY to a cease-fire, simply by threatening to cut off all military and civilian aid until the blood-letting stops. Congress would rage, and so would AIPAC, and politicians' careers would be endangered, but the killing would stop,and it would stop immediately.
Francesca G
3 years 4 months ago
Netanyahu brags about how easily the US is manipulated (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/checkpoint-washington/2010/07/netanyahu_america_is_a_thing_y.html.) That means our taxes are very easily manipulated -- into the back pocket of the IDF so it can kill civilians and small children. If Hobby Lobby can get an exemption on the grounds of conscience over certain contraceptives, I want one too -- a conscience-based exemption so I don't have to pay to slaughter children.
Carlos Orozco
3 years 4 months ago
"Catholic" politicians in Washington use Just War Theory for toilet paper when it comes to Israel. God forbid AIPAC stopped funding their campaigns and FoxNews called them anti-semites.
Carlos Orozco
3 years 4 months ago
Would appreciate to read any of the so-called benefits of R2P, with respect to the Palestian plight. I suppose such neocolonial concepts only apply against Arab regimes. By the way, what has happened since the "liberation" of Libya by psychotic "We came, we saw, he died!" Hilarry Rodham Clinton?
Chris Miller
3 years 2 months ago
Carlos: What does your assertion about Libya and blaming Sec. Clinton have to do with this issue? I assume you are of the "Benghazi investigative arm of the House" in your position. But how about sticking to the topic, especially when all you want to do is attack someone without cause, as an gratuitous slam. Pr Chris
Bill Mazzella
3 years 4 months ago
The General's son video is riveting and opinion changing. It is a shameful indictment of Israeli leadership.
JIM GROGAN
3 years 4 months ago
The disproportionate violence in this conflict certainly supports Professor Falk's indictment that what Israel is doing in the constant attacks is tantamount to torture. US funding of Israel is, sadly, funding torture on a grotesque scale. Let every concerned reader pray for peace, and every US taxpayer pray for forgiveness. In this age of modern warfare, there is never a winner, only an eventual truce or cessation of punishment/torture/attacks. Annihilation of Palestine is not a win for Israel, nor for any of God's Faithful. How will we answer the question of "what did you do for/to the least of My brothers" when Jesus asks us? And one day, He will ask each of us that question. Deacon Jim Grogan
Ron Pettengill
3 years 3 months ago
As a Catholic I support fully my Israeli brothers and sisters who are up against nations and organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah who state that the path to self-determination can only be had when Israel and specifically the Jews are wiped off the face of the earth. But in Ms. Patterson's world it is all about the unfair military edge that Israel has and a few "misguided rockets". Sorry but Israel is still the only democracy in the region. It is still the only nation that allows all religions to practice freely within its borders. It is still the only nation that does not discriminate against women and gay and lesbians. Can this be said for the Palestinians or their sponsors? I think not. The author speaks of the United Nations holding Israel accountable - will it also hold all parties on the other side accountable as well? I think we all know that answer to that question.
John Wotherspoon
3 years 3 months ago
Thank you Margot for this excellent article which I'll add to my Gaza File: http://v2catholic.com/background/2014/07/2014-07-25Gaza-file.htm
John Coppola
3 years 3 months ago
Who was it that kidnapped three innocent young men and killed them a few weeks ago? Who was it that has dug tunnels into Israeli territory and uses them to smuggle weapons, personnel etc. to do such things as mentioned above? And the years of bus and cafe bombings? Is Netanyahu totally right in his methods? No. But who does he have to talk to? The vacillating and timid Abbas? The Arab league? And who is it that democratically elected a terrorist organization to government, a terrorist organization that vows to destroy Israel and refuses to acknowledge its right to exist? It is not the inaccuracy of the rockets that stops them from reaching targets in Israel it is that Israel has built a virtual "dome" around its cities to detonate/disengage these rockets before they reach major cities and people. Why does it have to do this? In 1948 the U N decided to partition a part of the ancient land of Israel back to the Jewish people because of what happened to them in Europe. If Hitler had not lost the war there or lost a few years later we would be talking about the Jewish people in mostly the past tense today. Don't forget that Ms Patterson. A few years back Israel gave back a part of Gaza to the "Palestinians". What did they do with it? Build homes, farm etc.? No they used it as a launching pad for rockets into Israel. The original Palestinians were Greek in origin and called the Philistines, Palestina is the Roman title for their original settlements. The Arabs who are there now are descendents of Muslim invaders and missionaries who came to take over the "Holy Land" circa 650. Do you know how Palestine can gain respect and not pity from the rest of the world? Drop the religious fundamentalism, Hamas and the like, get some loans and investments and build up infrastructure, business, banking, use the huge beachfront for Mediterrenean resorts etc. and in turn create jobs for the generations of mostly hopeless young men. I bet Israel will then make peace and maybe even invest in the region.
Vince Killoran
3 years 3 months ago
Is it legal or just for the Israeli government to use force to maintain an illegal occupation? Who controls this narrative? Palestinian youth are regularly being When Israeli troops were caught on tape killing unarmed Palestinian teens just a few weeks before the kidnapping of the Israeli teens, imagine if Hamas responded by invading Israeli homes, shooting Israeli demonstrators and kidnapping hundreds of Israeli troops. Would media outlets cover such actions with the same sympathy and understanding afforded to Israel’s actions?
Michael Barberi
3 years 3 months ago
Vince, There is far too much intransigence and questionable moral behavior on both sides. Who claims that Israel is maintaining an "illegal occupation"? The World Court, the U.S., the EU, or the PLO and Iran? Israel took the spoils of war when the Arab world attached them in1967. All wars should be avoided. However, the Bible is replete with wars and occupations. The Israelites fought many wars and killed every person in various cities and towns, all in God's name. It seems clear that Israel will never go back to pre-1967 borders unless they are satisfied that a treaty will be honored and that Israel's safety is reasonably secured. At this point, this appear to be wishful thinking. Unfortunately, It seems that we will have to let this horrific violence play itself out a little longer and pray that a lasting peace can be reached. I believe in a two-state solution and hope this will come sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we are witnessing moral dilemma, stubborn and unreasonable bargaining positions and far too much hateful motivations and attitudes.
Vincent Gaitley
3 years 3 months ago
There is no occupation, legal or otherwise in Gaza. Israel exited the area years ago moving every Israeli and Israeli armed forces into the Israeli state. That the Gazans hitched their fate to the terrorists of Hamas is their problem. Israel is completely justified in rooting out the tunnels, the terrorists, and the terrain until the soil is clean. Hamas has been kidnapping and killing Israelis all along. Is that news to you?
Vince Killoran
3 years 3 months ago
My reference was to Israel's settlements in the West Bank which, along with Gaza, constitutes Palestine. You characterization of the situation is incredible. The BBC's take on the Gaza-Israel relationship is more on the mark: Israel occupied Gaza in the 1967 Middle East war and only pulled its troops and settlers out in 2005. Israel considered this the end of the occupation, but it still exercises control over most of Gaza's borders, waters and airspace. Egypt controls Gaza's southern border. Israel has imposed tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of the Gaza Strip, measures it says are vital for its own security. However, Palestinians in Gaza feel confined and are suffering socio-economic hardship. The dominant Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and other militant groups say the restrictions are intolerable.
Michael Barberi
3 years 3 months ago
Vince, I assume your response was to my reply. If not, I apologize for what follows. I agree on a two state solution. However, both sides must compromise. Nor I am justifying Israel's response to the rocket attacks. Israel's behavior and tactics are not proportionate nor appropriate. Nevertheless, you cannot minimize Israel's security concerns given the 1967 invasion and the vowed destruction of Israel by Hezbollah, Hams, Iran, Syria and the most of the PLO. Nor can you minimize Hamas's strategy of firing rockets and hiding weapons in schools and civilian homes. Think about a Palestinian state surrounding the east bank with freedom to govern as they wish, like any other country. Without severe restrictions on a second state, Hamas could easily develop an army, secure weapons from other countries and, when powerful enough, impose its will on Israel. This area of the world has been fighting for well over 60 years ever since the end of WW II when the Jews from war-torn Europe were permitted to settle in what is now Israel. The history about the Jews and Arabs in this area of the world goes back to after WW I when France and Britain reneged on a promise with the Arabs. This was not something the Jewish people caused, but regardless of causal blame here, there is a deep seated hatred on both sides for legitimate reasons. No one has innocent hands in this conflict. We now must deal with reality. Until Hamas and others sincerely and honestly declare that Israel has a right to exist, there will be no peace, no two state solution. Equally important, a negotiation goes nowhere if each side is denigrating the other for their behavior and not dealing with the legitimate points both sides raise. I wish I had the solution but I am not going to join in on the negative discourse about Israel when there is no balanced remarks about Hamas. No one likes to see innocent men, women and children die and suffer. I hope the violence ends and both sides enter peace negotiations.
Paul Stolz
3 years 3 months ago
Hamas leaders praised the kidnapping and brutal murder of 3 Israeli teenagers. Hamas has been tunneling into areas which have no army bases, plastic cuffs and tranquilizers have been found in tunnels along with weapons. Hamas has purposefully targeted civilian areas to bomb, The UN has reported that Hamas has hid rockets and fired them from UN refugee centers, hospitals and schools. It has also been reported that Hamas has prohibited people from leaving refugee centers. Of course we should not forget Hamas history of strapping explosives to suicidal teenagers and sending them into pizza parlors and on buses to kill Israeli teenagers. Violence only creates more violence. Gandhi was able to overthrow the British Empire with Non Violence, Dr King was able to end Jim Crow by Non Violence When will the palestinians understand that they ony hurt their cause when they kill, kidnap, torture, and use children as human shields or human bombs. You lecture one side on restraint while ignoring the horrible violent actions of the other side. Its not out of political orthodoxy that you mention both, its honest and fair to acknowledge that both sides need to work together for peace.
Robert Lewis
3 years 3 months ago
Mr. Stolz, I want to tell you a little story: I want to tell you a little story about a visit I once paid to a “hill station” high up in Himmachal Pradesh called Kashol that is usually filled with young recently-demobilized Israel soldiers. Being a persistent proponent, like you, of a non-violent course of resistance by the Palestinians, I suggested to my Israeli interlocutors—most of who were severely dispirited by the policies they’d been forced to implement and readily admitted that those policies were, ultimately, self-defeating for the Zionist project—that the “winning strategy” for the Palestinian people would be to simply lie down in the streets, to permit the Israelis to fill their jails and prisons with them, and to non-violently resist curfews and barriers, etc. To a man—or a woman—every single one of the young Israeli veterans opined, usually sorrowfully, that the prevailing sentiment of the present-day majority of their countrymen would be to respond to such an “existential threat” to the “Jewish State”—“existential” because it would threaten to replace the “Jewish State” with a pluralist and secular democracy, because of Arab demographics—with encouragement of their government to “shoot them down in the streets.”
michael baland
3 years 3 months ago
" It is still the only nation that allows all religions to practice freely within its borders." Conservative and Reform Jews and non-Jewish Israeli citizens might might have some problems with that statement.
JLGEII@aol.com
3 years 3 months ago
Margot Patterson would have us believe that Israel launched its current war against Hamas simply out of animosity for the Palestinians or for some sort of revenge over the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli settlers. She ignores the fact that Hamas has been shooting rockets into civilian neighborhoods in Israel since 2000, making life for the people there all but impossible. Where is the integrity in America publishing an article like this, which does not even acknowledge the terrible situation of thousands of rockets raining down on their people which Israel has been enduring for years, or the new discovery of a massive offensive tunnel infrastructure providing access to Israel for Hamas terrorists? These tunnels do not lead to Israeli military installations, they lead to kindergartens and agricultural collectives where people live. Although the Israelis have been relatively quiet about it, perhaps to avoid alarming people, it was reported in Maariv, an Israeli newspaper, that prior to beginning the ground invasion, Israeli security uncovered a plot for a massive terror attack which Hamas was planning for the Jewish New Year this coming fall. Hundreds of Hamas militants were going to go into Israel through the tunnels and kill and/or kidnap as many Israelis as possible. All of this is conveniently ignored as Ms. Patterson paints a simple picture of Gaza's innocence and "Israel on the warpath." And while Ms. Patterson bemoans the fact that the Palestinians "are too weak to induce Israel to make peace," she conveniently forgets that it was Israel -- not the Palestinians -- who accepted President Bill Clinton's final status peace deal in 2000 and an Israeli Prime Minister (Olmert) who offered an even more generous deal in 2008 -- only to be ignored by the Palestinians. As people of faith we have to stop this side-taking where we accuse one side or the other of being wholly to blame in what has become a truly tragic situation for both Israelis and Palestinians. When we do this we do not act as peace makers, we act as participants in the conflict. I wish America would start printing articles showing love and concern for both people and offering an honest and constructive way out -- instead of simplistically trying to make one side look like the bad guy. Fr. Jim Loughran Graymoor Ecumenical & Intereligious Institute New York
J Cosgrove
3 years 3 months ago
Here is a story that is making the rounds. It illustrates the sophistication and financial input Hamas made to these tunnels. It is the Israeli side of the story. One line says it all,
Anyone rooting here for Hamas is complicit in its agenda and terrorist actions. And these terrorist actions are not ‘just’ against Jews, they are firstly against the Palestinian people.
----------- http://humanevents.com/2014/07/21/the-real-forever-war/ http://humanevents.com/2014/07/24/the-real-forever-war-part-ii/ http://humanevents.com/2014/08/04/the-real-forever-war-part-3/
Carole Burnett
3 years 3 months ago
Many thanks to Ms. Patterson for setting the Gaza massacre in its context. Of course both Hamas and Israel are guilty of war crimes, but the vastly superior strength of U.S.-backed Israel and the fact that Gaza is under occupation create a special situation worthy of thorough consideration by the International Criminal Court. (The removal of settlers from Gaza in 2005 did not constitute an end to occupation, since Israel maintained a stranglehold on Gaza's borders and sea coast.) I hope that two particular journalistic endeavors will occur in the future: (1) that the media will investigate the role, if any, played by Israel's interest in natural gas reserves lying under the Mediterranean not far from Gaza, and (2) that AMERICA will someday publish articles examining the Zionist movement as an ideology and a historical phenomenon. Meanwhile, because of the Israel lobby's domination of our Congress, the only way in which Americans can influence Israel is through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS), as advocated by the organization Jewish Voice for Peace. "Friends don't let friends drive drunk," and Americans should spur Israel to fulfill its potential as a mature member of the international community, even if tough love is required.
JLGEII@aol.com
3 years 3 months ago
It is a little difficult to understand Carole Burnett's insistence that due to its superior military strength, Israel is wholly to blame for the current conflict. This is especially the case today, as Israel just agreed to an extension of the cease fire while all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, refused and fired rockets into Israel minutes after the 72 hour cease fire ended. I assume Ms. Burnett does not think Israel is morally obliged to sit there passively accepting rocket fire upon its own civilians and terror tunnels that would lead to massive attacks because they are militarily superior. A militarily inferior victim who repeatedly instigates war isn't really the victim, is it? Ms. Burnett also confuses occupation with blockade. They are two very separate things both in fact and under international law. Israel did indeed end the occupation of Gaza in 2005. They withdrew the military and the settlers. What they did put in place after the rockets increased and arms were being smuggled into gaza was a partial blockade. The blockade has caused severe humanitarian issues for Gazans. But, as Hamas' use of cement, intended for humanitarian building, to build an extensive network of terror tunnels into israel demonstrates, Israel is in a real bind here. Its not so easy for them just to lift the blockade. Ms. Burnett makes one comment which gives me serious pause for thought. She asks for an examination of the "Zionist movement as an ideology and an historical phenomenon." This casts grave doubt on her claimed intention of "tough love" aimed at Israel. If the problem, in her mind and perhaps the minds of others, is not so much anything Israel does, but its very existence (as her request seems to imply), then we are dealing with a troubling phenomenon within our own community and we are the ones who need to do some soul searching I think. Fr. Jim Loughran, SA Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute New York
Neil Himber
3 years 3 months ago
Excellent article. Thanks for speaking the truth. The right wing Zionists in Israel and the US, with the support of Christian Zionists have no intention of allowing a Palestinian State to exist. Peace activists within the Jewish community and the Christian community are intimidated into silence. So you are to be commended for you courage and your honesty. If we want peace we must work for justice.

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